With our final issue of The Franklin Post this school year and the first to feature the new editorial staff, we’re looking back on the year. Here are some of the most important challenges, landmarks, and experiences of the Post from 2018 and 2019.
Money in The Bank
The Franklin Post distributes hundred of copies to Franklin classes free of charge. As copies grew thicker and more colorful through the year, these costs have risen, but important growth in community support matched it. In late 2017, only local coffee shop Rain or Shine was signed up to advertise in the paper, a modern low, leading to financial instability. Advertisement numbers returned to historical normals once again this year.
Revenue also comes from subscriptions, a service where supporters of the Post pay for a delivery of each issue. Subscribers may be alumni, community members, or those with access to the Post who want to additionally support our cause. In any case, the increase in subscription numbers this year has been massive—from 45 in 2017-2018 to 106 currently.
86% of this year’s Post staff was white. This is well above the school proportion of 47%. The lack of diversity is a systemic issue. “If we look at highly academic spaces in this school, I don’t think they’re especially accessible to students of color, and I don’t think that the Post is necessarily an outlier in that,” says advisor Elizabeth Kirsch. “All of these are programs that need to be very intentional, including the Post, in how we set up our space and our programs to be accessible.” Kirsch believes these conversations need to happen across the staff, and that increased diversity can be assisted by promoting Intro to Journalism for young non-white students.
The Post, explains Literary Editor Kiran Weasel, is often intimidating to those who have had less extensive English background. This perpetuates diversity issues, she explains, because “The people who do writing, who enjoy writing and reading, and enjoy being in school, those people are going to be more people who’ve had resources growing up and those are going to be more white people or affluent people.” Writer Luke DeMeo suggests “telling people that you don’t need to be the best writer in the world to join the Post.”
The Post hopes to improve. “It is important to have diversity in settings like a classroom because it creates more perspective and when there’s more perspective, especially in journalism, there’s more thought and idea and cohesion in what we’re trying to put out to the school,” says Weasel. Editor in Chief Macy Potter corroborates this. “So much of expression derives from people’s culture and their backgrounds and it’s really important to address their perspectives,” she says.
Announced in November, investigative series FHS Frontline produced the most buzzed about stories this year. Longer, more technical, and more multipartied than anything we’d done before, Frontline’s investigations dived deep into systemic issues. Annika Mayne, who co-created the series with Leo Baudhuin, says, “We wanted to expose systems and we talked to adults, specifically Julie Palmer, and we decided that our goal was to expose inequities at Franklin.”
Frontline’s exploration of controversial issues required an increased level of accountability and fact checking. “Especially in an investigative piece, there’s obviously a subject at hand, like something specific you’re investigating, and sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in that and [not] get all the perspectives that you need in order to tell as full of a story as possible,” says Kirsch. “My role during Frontline was looking at all the information that we had and figuring out which additional perspectives were missing.”
Next year, Frontline will return under new leadership. Anyone is encouraged to get involved in the process. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Growing Paper
The new staff for this year was hired with the expectation of fulfilling a monthly 8-12 page paper. Only months into the cycle, those expectations were shattered as the Post broke old records, succeeding in creating, albeit with some strain, a 20 page issue.
Sections that were previously underpopulated found new prolificity. “Early on when I was the advisor, we had such a problem filling up the sports page,” says Kirsch. “This year, we have writers who consistently write for sports and mostly want to write for [it].” In April 2019’s issue, through collaboration with writers from Intro to Journalism, Sports filled two spreads.
Flexibility of size allowed for creative and in-depth analysis—from photo essays to a thorough report on the Democratic primaries to Frontline’s exploration of athletics, which weaved from the front and across many pages. However, the process has been difficult. “When one story got cut sometimes we would have to quickly create an entire page,” says former Editor in Chief Sam Montagne.
With the increased funds, the Post has also implemented consistent color, which helps draw attention to it under tissue boxes in classrooms. “Having color pages makes things look more alive… and makes reading the paper a little more interesting and eye catching,” says DeMeo.